Obama, Trump, and Immigration Policy: Who Deported More People, and What Administration Created the Separation Order


By Viral Awesome Staff

When it comes to the immigration debate under President Trump both sides seem to be ratcheting up the emotions, and the accusations, on a daily basis.


Specifically, the so-called “separation order” that detains adults separately from the children is causing a lot of headaches for the Trump administration and Republicans in general, many of who tried to blame the policy on a previous Obama administration order.


It isn’t surprising that Donald Trump is tough on immigration.


Making combating illegal immigration one of the pillars of his 2016 campaign for President of the United States, Donald Trump has used what some consider incendiary rhetoric with regard to illegal immigrants, rhetoric that critics are using to decry Trump’s immigration policies and label him a racist, among other things.


But Republicans are fighting back and pointing out that President Barack Obama was an aggressive administration when it came to the deportation of illegal immigrants, even more so than his predecessor George W. Bush.


Further, Republicans allege that the order to separate families at the border comes from the Obama administration.


For many on the right in the United States, this would seem to be yet another example of the marked hypocrisy that characterizes the left’s approach to public debate. Their leaders can do nothing wrong and Republicans can do nothing right – even when continuing the policies of a Democratic administration.


Of course, with any debate, opinion is often bandied about as fact and innuendo becomes a statement of policy. So what gives? Did the Barack Obama administration ratchet up the deportations of illegal immigrants? And further, did the Obama administration develop the so-called “separation order” that is tearing immigrant families apart and placing children into holding pens along the border?


First, it is true that, during his eight years as president, Barack Obama deported more illegal immigrants than any other previous administration. At the current pace of deportations, if President Trump were to serve for 8 years, he would easily surpass this record but as it stands now Barack Obama’s administration is responsible for more deportations than ever before. In this regard, President Trump has continued Obama era policies if not taken them to the next level. Indeed, Jeff Sessions’ “zero tolerance” approach to illegal immigration has resulted in what some are calling extreme actions on the part of the government, but the trend of deporting more people is one that the Trump administration is continuing from the Obama administration.


According to ABC, the Obama administration removed some 2.5 million illegal immigrants between 2009 and 2015, earning him the moniker “Deporter in Chief.” Further, according to ABC, the Obama administration was not only eager to deport, they allegedly deported more people than all the other administrations of the 20th century combined. One major difference between the deportation actions of the Obama administration and those of the current Trump administration is in who is being deported. Under Obama, a lot of the focus was on criminals and those who had violated the law, not families. The Obama administration even attempted several programs to help these people become legal.


The Trump administration, meanwhile, as mentioned above, is taking a hardline, zero-tolerance approach which includes targeting families of illegal immigrants. While nowhere near the Obama administration’s numbers, the Trump administration’s broadened focus could yield higher numbers as he stays longer in office.


Now, for the question of the “separation order,” did the injunction to separate adults and children begin as an Obama era policy?


The answer to this is an unequivocal “no,” this separation order is an invention of Trump’s Attorney General Jeff Sessions. Versions of this separation order have existed perhaps since the Clinton administration back in the 1990s, but it was Jeff Sessions who directed that adult illegal immigrants and child illegal immigrants should be detained in separate facilities. President Trump even went to Twitter to claim that this separation order is a law developed by Democrats and has its origins in their caucus. This is not true and inaccurate. There is no federal law ordering that adults and children classified as illegal immigrants are to be held separately. There is an order from Jeff Sessions that this must be done, an order that was revoked by President Trump’s executive action to end the separate detention of adults and children, or the so-called family separation orders. This order has its origins in Sessions’ zero-tolerance approach to illegal immigration and was detailed by Sessions in a series of speeches to law enforcement that he delivered back in April 2018.


Sessions said: “If you are smuggling a child, then we will prosecute you and that child will be separated from you as required by law … If you don’t like that, then don’t smuggle children over our border. …We don’t want to separate families, but we don’t want families to enter the border illegally[.] We urge them not to do so.”


In early May 2018, CNN reported that immigration officials were to exercise discretion in separating children from adults: “It has long been a misdemeanor federal offense to be caught illegally entering the US, punishable by up to six months in prison, but the administration has not always referred everyone caught for prosecution. Those apprehended were swiftly put into immigration proceedings and, unless they met the threshold to pursue a valid asylum claim, can be quickly deported from the country. The current DHS plan makes no special arrangements for those who claim asylum when apprehended. While they will be allowed to pursue their claims and could eventually be found to have a legitimate right to live in the US, they could still already have a conviction for illegal entry.”


The two basic answers to this complex question are that, yes, Barack Obama did in fact increase deportations to levels not previously seen in previous presidential administrations and, no, the Barack Obama administration did not conjure up a “separation policy” to remove children from parents in situations of suspected illegal immigration, this is instead a Trump-era policy enacted seemingly unilaterally by Attorney General Jeff Sessions.